SHANGHAI — You want your children to do well in school. You want them to have nice friends and interesting hobbies and to not go out with creeps. You may even want them to be happy.

But in this computer game, you can always start over with a new digital child if things don't work out as planned.

A new game in China puts players in control of those most fearsome of characters: Mom and Dad. The mission? Raise a son or daughter from cradle to college.

In a nation of famously demanding, scolding and, yes, sometimes loving mothers and fathers, the game, Chinese Parents, is a hit. Since its release in September, it has found a huge audience on Steam, an online marketplace run by the American game maker Valve Corporation. There are no official figures for how many people have downloaded the game, but it has provoked heated discussion online, while earning tens of thousands of reviews.

Yang Ge Yilang, a founder of Moyuwan Games, the independent studio that developed Chinese Parents, said he hoped to produce an English version this year.

These choices shape how your child develops along six dimensions: intelligence, emotional intelligence, physical fitness, imagination, memory and charm.

A bar on the screen reflects how much psychological pressure the child is feeling. Pile on too much schoolwork, and the child may crack. But don’t let your score for “parental satisfaction” fall too low, either. Another score captures the concept of “face,” supremely important in Chinese culture. If a child loses face by doing badly in school, a summer trip to Europe could be canceled.

Over time, adolescent love bubbles up. How far does that go? Let it just be said that Chinese censors do not abide video games considered less than wholesome.

A child’s final scores determine what happens after she leaves home. There are more than 200 colleges, including vocational schools and elite universities, that might offer a spot. The socially adept have their pick of compatible mates. There are myriad career possibilities: taxi driver, celebrity author, e-commerce mogul, Beyoncé.

The earliest version of Chinese Parents gave players only the option of raising a son. In the current version, those who choose to have a daughter get reminders about attitudes that remain common in China. Her virtual grandmother says girls don’t need to do as well as boys in school. Her mother says that for a girl, the ultimate goal of hard work is to marry a good man.

After playing Chinese Parents, Mr. Kang, the blogger in Qinhuangdao, showed it to someone who ought to be an authority on Chinese parents: his mother, Zang Wenru.

“We want to make decisions that we think are best for our kids, and to help them avoid detours,” said Ms. Zang, 51, who works in a hotel. “But I think what many seem to forget is that every step counts in life, even the detours. We all used to be Chinese kids, too, with thoughts that we want to be respected.”

Chinese Parents does not end when the digital child is grown. If she ends up with good character scores and a solid education and career, the next generation in the game starts out with better character scores.

On the flip side, “if you mess up the first generation, it will be harder for the following generations to make outstanding achievements,” Mr. Yang, the game’s developer, said.

Kong Qingxun, a 21-year-old blockchain entrepreneur in the southern city of Guangzhou, has raised eight generations of sons in the game. He let the first boy play lots of soccer and video games. But he didn’t get into college, so Mr. Kong changed his approach.

He drove his next son hard in school, earning him admission to the famed Tsinghua University in Beijing. From then on, it was easier for Mr. Kong to keep his boys on a path to accomplishment. By the seventh or eighth generation, his children were so gifted that they could goof off yet still excel academically and date pretty girls.

This feels true to life, Mr. Kong said.

“At the beginning, you think it’s just a 100-meter run,” he said, referring to life. “Then you realize it’s a marathon. And finally you understand it’s a relay race that never ends.”